More than 90% of territory in severe, extreme drought

  • Lusa
  • 21 February 2022

"To date, 2021/22 is also the driest hydrological year when compared with the other meteorological drought years," the Portuguese Institute of Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) announced on Monday.

More than 90% of Portugal was in severe or extreme drought on February 15, according to the Portuguese Institute of Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA), which indicates a further worsening of the meteorological drought in the country.

The latest drought bulletin, released on Monday and referring to February 15, indicates the percentage of water in the soil below average throughout the territory, with the Northeast and South regions reaching values below 20%, with “many places reaching the point of permanent wilting”.

The document, which highlights the South region and some locations in the districts of Bragança and Castelo Branco, points to 38.6% of the territory in extreme drought (11.5% at the end of January), 52.2% in severe drought (34.2% at the end of January) and 9.2% in moderate drought.

“The degree of severity of meteorological drought on February 15, 2022, is higher than in 2018 and 2005, with a higher percentage in the classes of severe and extreme drought and corresponding to about 91% of the territory,” IPMA said.

The institute also said that no significant precipitation was expected until the end of February. Concerning air temperature, the trend will be “for values above normal for the whole territory, especially for the central and southern interior region”.

In a forecast of the weather situation, it added that “the meteorological drought will very likely continue at the end of February, with almost the entire territory in the most severe classes of the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) index.

The IPMA recalls that the average value, for the Portuguese mainland, the amount of rainfall until February 15 (7.1 mm) corresponds to 7% of average 1971-2000 and that in the first half of February, there was only the occurrence of rainfall between the 13th and 15th and especially in the northern coastal region.

The highest precipitation value in 15 days occurred in Lamas de Mouro (40.6mm) and the lowest in Vila Real de Santo António (0.4mm).

According to IPMA, the average value of precipitation in the current hydrological year 2021/2022, from October 1, 2021, to February 15, 2022, corresponds to 39% of the average value.

“To date, 2021/22 is also the driest hydrological year when compared with the other meteorological drought years,” it added.

As for temperatures, IPMA said that in the first half of February, the maximum air temperature values were “almost always higher than the normal monthly value”, highlighting the day 02 and the period from 07 to 11, with average values in the mainland close to 20°C.

The minimum air temperature “was almost always below the monthly normal,” he adds.

The agriculture ministers of Portugal and Spain today presented to the European Commission a set of measures to “minimise” the effects of drought on the Iberian Peninsula, hoping for “sensitivity” from Brussels to the problems faced by the agricultural sector.

Speaking on arrival at a Council of EU Agriculture Ministers, Minister Maria do Céu Antunes said that it is a question of trying to minimise “a double effect that is being felt in farms, arising from the drought that is already having an impact by now”, but also from “the high cost of raw materials that is being felt, which has a particularly serious effect on livestock farms”.